Big Bird and the Left’s false dichotomy

Victor Joecks

Is Big Bird powerless without the state? This letter writer to the Las Vegas Sun thinks so.

During last week’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney fired Big Bird. He said that Big Bird was dependent on government funds and thus part of the 47 percent – therefore he would be part of his budget cuts.

Now Big Bird will be unemployed. He will have to get unemployment, but Romney also wants to cut that from his budget. …

Because Romney fired Big Bird, he would be homeless, hungry and have no health insurance.

Read the whole letter for a classic example of a government-dependent mindset.

In the real world though, this is a bit out of touch given that Sesame Street made, er…, $211 million from toy and consumer product sales between 2003-2006.

The letter highlights what is a significant flaw in liberal rhetoric – the false dichotomy. Either you support government subsidizing/mandating something or you hate it and anyone who could possibly benefit from it.

Case in point: If you oppose mandating insurance companies provide cancer vaccines, you must hate women or cancer patients.

That, as these examples illustrate, is the most elementary of thinking.

  • If you don’t give your son a sports car for his 16th birthday, you must hate him.
  • If you don’t give me all your money so I can buy my wife jewelry, you must hate women.
  • If you don’t eat three pounds of vegetables and exercise every single day, you must be a fat slob.
Ridiculous, right?

But that’s the level of argumentation coming from many on the left. There are many reasons to oppose cancer-vaccine mandates – not to oppose cancer vaccines, but to oppose the government’s mandating of such. Chief among those reasons is freedom.

When these false dichotomies occur, we need to turn them into, as President Obama would call it, teachable moments.

Subsidizing PBS and Sesame Street is wrong, because it’s not the role of government to choose winners and losers in the economy or in TV shows.

And eliminating PBS’ subsidy wouldn’t lead to the firing of Big Bird, but a chance for a show already earning hundreds of millions to succeed or fail on its merits.